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Does the Elephant Dance?Contemporary Indian Foreign Policy$
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David M. Malone

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199552023

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199552023.001.0001

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A Vital Foundation of India’s International Relations

(p.19) 2 History
Does the Elephant Dance?

David M. Malone

Oxford University Press

This chapter reviews the history of India, sketching out aspects of Indian experience over the millennia that are relevant to its contemporary self-image as well as some past efforts to project abroad Indian aspirations, values, and power. It addresses a number of problematic yet common myths regarding key features of Indian civilization, especially with regard to the nature of religious communities and their interaction, as well as the nature of immigration processes and the accommodation of diverse ethnic and linguistic groups over the twentieth century. Two broad phenomena emerge as constants in Indian history. First, the repeated influx of peoples and ideas from the northwest, at times in the form of invasions, but more often through migration, pastoral circuits, or as traders and missionaries, is striking. Second, barring the colonial period, Indian history is characterized by alternating cycles of imperial consolidation and processes of decentralization, with foreign influences accommodated and assimilated, and ‘cultural fusions’ occurring throughout.

Keywords:   Indian history, religion, immigration, ethnic groups, assimilation, decentralization, foreign influence

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